Toughie 2593 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2593

Toughie No 2593 by Chalicea

Hints and tips by Miffypops

I’m not here to be perfect. I’m here to be me 

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BD Rating – Difficulty **  Enjoyment ***

It is always a pleasure to solve a puzzle form Chalicea. Reviewing the puzzle doubles that pleasure. I’ll stop now before I’m accused of using the type of flattery alluded to in 26 across.

My grandson Harrison is seven years old today. Golly Bongs. How did that happen?

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. 


1a        Nutty fruit (7)
BANANAS: A nice little chestnut to start us off. A double definition. The first having nothing to do with edible fruits

5a        Slick men’s boundless cold, base debauchery (7)
LICENCE:  Begin with the inner letters (boundless) of the first two words from the clue. Add the abbreviation for cold and the letter representing logarithmic base

9a        More meagre aircrews dispersed around north (9)
SCRAWNIER: An anagram (dispersed) of AIRCREWS with the abbreviation for north

10a      Hostility‘s risk initially cut short (5)
ANGER:  A word synonymous with risk needs to lose its first letter (cut short)

11a      Occasionally, ditches in a higher place freeze over (3,2)
ICE UP: The alternative letters of the word ditches are followed by a word meaning in a higher place

12a      Tangled mesh, very small person’s embroidery (9)
HEMSTITCH: An anagram (tangled) of MESH is followed by a word meaning a small person. A friend of Ray Allen and Quackers

13a      Document tax cheers parliamentarian blocking condemned study (5,4)
STAMP DUTY: A two-letter word meaning cheers or thank you is followed by our usual parliamentarian. Together they sit inside an anagram (condemned) of STUDY

16a      Sinister fish, ultimately nasty (5)
SHADY: A type of fish is followed by the last letter of the word nasty. “Which fish”? I hear you ask. This one. A type of fish, much valued as a sport fish. The male is an excellent game fish, showing multiple jumps and an occasional end-over-end; it has been called a “freshwater tarpon”. The gravid female does not fight much, but is often kept for the roe. “Never heard of it”.  I hear you shout. “Nor me”. Is my reply

17a      Blunder in panic losing head (5)
ERROR: A word meaning extreme panic needs its first letter removing

18a      Quarrel before accident involving eastern pile of junk (9)
SCRAPHEAP:  Begin with a minor spat or quarrel. Add an archaic noun meaning lot, fortune, happenchance or at a stretch accident which has the abbreviation for eastern inserted

20a      Criticise military operation falsehoods — impressive collections! (9)
PANOPLIES: A three-letter synonym of criticise is followed by the abbreviation for a military operation. This is now followed by some fibs or pork pies

23a      Men pursuing corruption in revolving bar (5)
ROTOR: The ‘men’ or ‘other ranks’ as opposed to ‘officer rank’ in the armed forces follow a word meaning corruption

25a      Regularly buys out all habitual drink (5)
USUAL: The alternative letters of some of the words in the clue

26a      Servile flattery about dubious deals in promising start that flops (5,4)
FALSE DAWN:  A verb meaning to give a servile display of exaggerated flattery or affection, typically in order to gain favour surrounds an anagram (dubious) of DEALS

27a      Rifle shot implodes missing aim finally (7)
DESPOIL: Anagram (shot) of IMPLODES minus the last letter of the word aim

28a      Temporary expedient to close up breach (7)
STOPGAP: Two synonyms are required here. One meaning close up. One meaning a breach 


1d        Arouses into activity most effective New York tax collectors? (7)
BESTIRS: An adverb, adjective or noun meaning most superlative is followed by the initials of the American tax collections office

2d        Corner vendor stocks sauce (5)
NERVE: The answer lies hidden within the words of the clue. As indicated by the word stocks

3d        Novel health and beauty resort with reputation rising daily (9)
NEWSPAPER: A straightforward charade. A word meaning novel. A commercial establishment offering ridiculously expensive silly treatments to those easily parted with their money. The reverse of an abbreviation for reputation

4d        Hush about US technology institute forger (5)
SMITH: A short exclamation demanding silence surrounds the initials of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

5d        Old army or unorthodox chief civil authority (4,5)
LORD MAYOR: Anagram (unorthodox) of OLD ARMY OR

6d        Group of actors acquiring Oscar succeed with little effort (5)
COAST: The letter represented by Oscar in the NATO phonetic alphabet sits inside a list of actors appearing in a production

7d        Difficult experience in the dark on moon area (9)
NIGHTMARE: The part of the day that is dark is followed by a large level basalt plain on the surface of the moon

8d        Possible lake will be in blue (7)
EARTHLY: A word used to describe blue material used by a comedian surrounds the abbreviation for lake

14d      Aviators, ignoring the odds, race to Saturn in a frenzy (9)
AERONAUTS: The alternative letters of the words RACE TO combine with the letters of the word SATURN to provide an anagram (in a frenzy) which provides the solution to this clever clue

15d      Ham-fisted university student after drunken skinful (9)
UNSKILFUL: The abbreviation of University and the letter used to denote a student or learner are divided by an anagram (drunken) of SKINFUL

16d      Wonder Woman, say, having drink with the Queen and her followers, essentially (9)
SUPERHERO: To drink (3) The Queen (1,1) HER from the clue. The central letter (essentially) of the word followers. A do as you are told clue

17d      Analyse origin of dog from strays’ enclosure? (7)
EXPOUND: Split 2,5 where a dog which was formerly a stray might come from. I’m none too sure about this clue

19d      Standard to cut whitish edible root (7)
PARSNIP:  A word meaning standard (think golf) is followed by a word meaning to cut (think hairdressers)

21d      Viral infection from India caught by 13th-century explorer (5)
POLIO: Marco the explorer can be impaled by the letter suggested by India in the NATO phonetic alphabet 

22d      Instances of promoting singular alcoholic drinks (5)
SALES: The abbreviation for singular is followed by some alcoholic drinks much loved by your reviewer today

24d      Suggestion of nasal intonation (5)
TWANG:  A double definition the second being a characteristic style of speech


36 comments on “Toughie 2593

  1. A very friendly Toughie indeed, about on a par with a straightforward back pager. The fact that it was a Chalicea creation ensured that it was of a high quality and good fun to complete. 15d was my favourite clue.

    My thanks to Chalicea and MP.

  2. Well, I completed the Toughie for the first time today, and before the hints were published. Lockdown must be doing me some good, or maybe my vaccination last week has injected some brain cells into my body.

    Too difficult to pick a COTD but I really enjoyed the experience and have certainly benefited from this site over the last two years

  3. Just a pleasant solve. Felt silly at having “scary“ for 16a instead of “shady”.
    No real favourites but I’ll settle for 12a as it reminds me I have sewing to do.

  4. Very gentle but enjoyable. 18a gave me flashback to the Channel 4 series which I absolutely loved. Thanks to Chalicea and MP.

  5. We put “SCARY” in 16a. It fits with the checkers and Chambers told us that a scar is, indeed, a fish ( a parrot-wrasse, it seems).

    Do we then have ambiguous answers for that clue?

    Overall it was most enjoyable. Sorry for not posting for so long and thanks to Miffypops and Chalicea.

  6. For a change I guessed the compiler. As ever a very pleasant solve & elegantly clued throughout. Nice & gentle which is just what I needed having had my inadequacies ruthlessly exposed by an utterly impenetrable cryptic in the Graun.
    Thanks to Chalicea & to MP & happy birthday Harrison.

  7. Ye gods miffypops! I remember when Harrison was born & it seems like yesterday. Incidentally my youngest son is 35 today & is now a headteacher. How did that happen?

    1. Either he was great at his job and progressed naturally or he was rubbish at his job and moved to management where he could do less harm. Whichever, how about your grandchildren Spindrift?

      1. We’re in a bubble with “The Educators” offspring so we see Julia fairly frequently (yes, both her parents are teachers – heaven help her in the future) but as to Henry & George I’m afraid it’s facetime once a week only. And when they know they are on camera they do become quite misbehaved so having a meaningful conversation with their Dad is impossible. Anyway here’s to a brighter future hopefully. Stay Safe as they say.

  8. Well – as per Richard+Hill today my first Toughie done! If I was rating as per the usual back pager I would say ***/*** but confess I haven’t checked what the form on that is yet. I am encouraged to try more now.

  9. Boredom led me to give the Toughie a go. What a pleasure it was. I wasn’t expecting it to be so straightforward. Completed it unaided on the iPad, and submitted it….. to discover I’d got one wrong. I’m a bit disappointed with that. I’d put “scary” into 16a, because it was the only fish I knew that I could add a “y” to. Still, it was my best effort at a “Toughie” so far. Thanks to Chalicea and Miffypops.

  10. I’m another scary one! It fits just as well though I admit I’d never heard of a parrot-wrasse either.
    Thanks to Chalicea for most entertaining clueing within my solving abilities.
    Also thanks to Miffypops.

  11. Chalicea joining you here with sincere apologies about the SCARY. It never occurred to me that there was a second answer that was almost (yes, I think ‘almost’) as good and would say that those of you who opted for that should mark yourselves correct too. I am delighted when newcomers manage their first unaided solve – a Tuesday Toughie is supposed to be the most gentle of the week (and apologies too for those who found it a little too easy though none of you has been so blunt as to say so – thank you!) Indeed, have a go at today’s Guardian if you still need that challenge. Thank you as always, Miffypops.

    1. Despite the rightful celebration of an important cruciverbalist’s event, I found today’s Guardian a major slog and gave up before the end as I don’t have a “Book of Wild Animals” .😉

      Much happier with this is one Chalicea!

      Many thanks.

    2. Thanks very much for popping in, Chalicea, and for a delightful and light puzzle which made a pleasant start to the Toughie week. 15d was my favourite – the surface conjures up a lovely image.

  12. Agree with your ratings MP. Scary crossed my mind for 16a, but somewhere I remembered that a shad was a fish, so plumped for that as a better definition for sinister. Some of the clues almost too easy – 17a and 19d to name just two, and others a bit clunky in the surface reading, but I’ll not be too critical as I’ve never set a puzzle and at least I have another notch in my completed puzzle bedpost. Assuming the wonder woman depicted is Saint Sharon? Thanks to all.

    1. Yes, I too wondered who the Superhero was? Nice gentle enjoyable toughie. Thanks to Chalicea and MP for the hints, needed for confirmation of 10a and 8d.

  13. Well I didn’t think it was too easy, even for a Tuesday toughie. I struggled with the NE corner and had to resort to Chambers to identify words starting with an anagram of “mesh” [12a] and even then, only just found one! But it was fun, so thanks to Chalicea and to MP for the blog.

  14. I thought this just about scraped into Toughie territory but was on the whole a pleasant solve.
    I’d never heard of either 12 or 20a but both were easily obtainable from the wordplay and checkers.
    I can appreciate the idea but I’m not sure that 17d quite works, either the definition or the wordplay. However lots of others to like with top spot going predictably (for those who know my surname) to 5d, though I did smile at 26a.
    Many thanks to Chalicea and MP for the entertainment.

  15. Finished again – 3 toughies in 2 weeks!! But winged it through wordplay on a few clues
    Still not sure about the answers match the definitions in 5a, 8d and 22d
    17d my favourite today

    1. Yes, I only just got away with 17d – it almost earned the editorial red pen but I liked it too much to adapt it.

  16. I didn’t think it was too easy either but I rarely venture into Toughieland – far too much of a coward!
    Still don’t understand 5a – never mind.
    I did spend a little bit of time playing “hunt the theme” but if there is one I can’t find it!
    All good fun – thank you Chalicea and thanks too to MP.

    1. Hi Kath – 5a remove the outside letters from the first two words of the clue, then add Cold and the mathematical base

      1. I got that bit ok but took me took me a moment to think licentiousness.
        How did you get on with that horror in the Graun ?

        1. Gave up on it Huntsman – I don’t mind a challenge but that was just too convoluted and zero fun

      2. Thank you – that wasn’t the bit I didn’t understand – I could put the answer together but couldn’t see how it = the definition.

  17. Finished this lovely Chalicea last night before the backpager (which actually took me longer to complete) and very much enjoyed it. With 20a, I was reminded of a (to me) memorable passage from an American Transcendentalist of the 19th Century–a lady who mixed religion with philosophy, and founded a whole religious denomination: “Clad in the panoply of love,” she wrote, and I have remembered the line all my life. In the past I have confessed that Chalicea is my favourite of the Toughie setters (is it because our wave lengths harmonise?) and today’s work just reinforces my regard. Thanks to MP and Chalicea.

  18. Thoroughly enjoyable as ever from this setter. Toyed with the possibility of SCARY for 16a before deciding that the right answer was a much closer fit to the definition.
    Thanks Chalicea and MP.

  19. Several people have announced “firsts” and this is the first time I’ve ever completed the cryptic and toughie in one evening, mainly because my success rate at completing toughies after I’ve had a drink approximates to zero. In fact, now I think of it, before this evening it was zero. I enjoyed this and I didn’t fall into the scary trap, not that I’d heard of the fish. Favourite was 20a. Many thanks to Chalicea and Miffypops

  20. The only reason I know the fish mentioned in 25 across, is that the great detective Nero Wolfe, often has shad roe. Nevertheless, I still went ahead and put scary as the answer.
    A very pleasant puzzle. 👍

  21. Thanks to Chalicea and to Miffypops for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one very much. I thought I had a Toughie completion before the day was out, but alas, I had “scary” for 16a. Now the shad, will forever be engrained in my mind! Favourite was 17d. Was 2* /3* for me.

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